Category: Culture

21 Mar

Twitter Brings Aid to Devastated Area in Japan

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

Friday on the 18th of March at 14:46 Japan time, people observed a minute of silence for all the loss and damages from the earthquake attacked Japan a week ago.



While people are paying attention to Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, in the devastated area 260,000 are still suffering from shortage of food, water or medicine.

ishinomakishort medicine










Japanese government on the 15th, decided to send Self-Difence Force to those devastated area to send them supply. They have cleared up Kamaishi port and a ship arrived finally before the weekend. First they supplied petro to fire engines and trucks to send rescue team and aid to the shelters. Besides this, they took food (of course), nappies, kerosene and medicines. However, this is still not enough.


twitter blankets


Menwhile twitter has become a great help in Japan.

The students a university in Tsukuba city in Ibaraki prefecture where is accepting people from devastated area  asked people aid through Twitter. The reaction was so quick that within 1 hour, they received about 600 onigiri. 


A councilor of the same city and the city itself asked blankets and cusions for them, and within 2 hours, they received about 250 blankets. 

twitter stops rush to buy

Some people are panicked and rush into the supermarkets to stock up food. So in twitter, someone has put this. It says "we can help by sharing" and shows for example, another 12 rolls of toilet paper you just bought can serve to 1,000 people in the shelters. This is true and effective, I think.



Actually when I first found out about this quake, I opened my twitter after long time and just put "please answer me". Soon, a friend from childhood responded, she also had found out other friends' safety. How relief it gave me!


Of course if they are in the devastated area, it doens't work but this type of social network is the biggest help in Japan at the moment, especially under the situation that the aid is coming from individual people and private volunteer groups.


Today was the day I really appreciate social network. Everyone says that they want to help whatever they can. Each little help becomes a big help at the end. I'm writing this to tell you all what is really happening in Japan and how they've been spending these days besides you see on the telly on your sofa.


18 Mar

What Is Really Happening in Fukushima Daiichi? – Learn From Nuclear Boy

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

Entire world is paying attention to this human-made monster, Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and TEPCO. We all irritated and frustrated with them for not being able to understand what is really happening there, but seeing American military is withdrawing to 80km away from the plant but not 30km.


The plant was supposed to retire a month ago but TEPCO extended the lisence for another year. Now they have to pay back but the price is sky high. We all know that. 


Now I can see four, at least three destroyed buildings of the rectors. Earthquake and Tsunami damage-Dai Ichi Power Plant, JapanI don't know who can think these buildings are recoverable. We are not physicists nor nuclear experts but it's quite obvious something went wrong.


Despite of our fear and concern, TEPCO kept saying "it's OK, under control, blah, blah."


Finally, a week after,  on the 18th March, special fireservice and Japanese Self-Defence Force managed to start putting the water into the fuel pool to cool down the fuel rods, and it seems to be working.


We still don't know if this is the ending of this nightmare or it continues.


This is a little video about Fukushima nuclear plant. It's easy to understand what is happening there and what they are trying to do. It was viewed more than 60,000 people during a week.


This video was made based on a Japanese media artist, Kazuhiko Hachiya's tweet.


18 Mar

Tokyo report 1- After The Earthquake

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

tokyo office

A huge earthquake shock Japan on the 11th of March. The fear continues since then. Not only successive aftershocks but other problems one after another.


I like to record all the incidents happening here in Tokyo, in Japan as much as possible.


One warm afternoon in March, suddenly the earthquake shock the island. It was just before 3pm when I felt something unusual in my office which is the last floor of the building.


First I thought it was me feeling rocked because of the tiredness. Then I realised it wasn't me.


I've never tried but it must feel like that if you stand on a jelly, those colourful ones the kids would eat. The office waved just like that.


Because we've been seeing the images of the buildings falling down in NZ during the quake, although it must've been much safer to remain inside the office, we all went outside. Perhaps even without the disaster in NZ, we would have been out anyway.


The instinct rushed me into running away as far as possible.


The director of the company himself was scared.

He directed us to go home then left the office first.

It gave me some sort of impression of our company's future…


In the meantime, I was still in the office, I mean I couldn't leave the office.

Japan is a country of earthquakes and well prepared but actually the big cities like Tokyo have less resistance. Trains and tubes had stopped immediately. I thought about getting a taxi but the streets were full of cars, all rushing to get home.


I had no choice other than staying in the office and watching TV news to get more information about the quake.

shibuya power save

… The images coming out from the screen gave me the confusion, as if it was like unrealistic Hollywood films done with lots of CG.




Sanriku coast near the seismic centre of this earthquake is famous for its beautiful saw-toothed coastline and is a popular touristic spot.However this time, that coastline became a deathblow as it actually increased the power of the tsunami.


The waves suddenly grew bigger and wiped out the cars (probably people too) parked in a parking tower. In the below level, streets and houses were being swallowed in a muddy stream in such a short time.


Was it a mass media spirit or simply they wanted higher audience ratings, all TV stations continued showing tragic images.

power save

Now I understand what terror exactly means…. this.


I was in Tokyo, more than 200km away from the seismic centre, and yet the fear crept up my body.


200-300 of dead bodies had been found on the shore, the news reported.

It was terrible enough to sacrifice, then the mayor of one the devastated cities announced…

“The victims will reach more than 10,000”.


I always think of the worst case of scenario.

When I heard 200-300 of death, I immediately thought of at least 10 times more of victims from the images showing on TV. I was stunned as if someone hit my head hard when I heard the mayor.


On the 17th of March, the number of victims are much higher than that mayor predicted, by today, more than 15,000 people are dead or missing.


I don't feel this real.

chaos train


I saw someone's  saying in his blog,

"Japanese people won't give up."


Many Japanese people would've been encouraged by his word.


Only if there was another menace waiting for us after tsunami….



More about 3.11

M8.8 quake attacked Japan

A year after in Japan

A year after the story of Japanese people

17 Mar

We Don’t Cry-Meaning of being Japanese in This Disaster

Juju Kurihara 1 Comment

The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear-plant explosion, the triple disaster has rocked Japan literally. 


Now all the world is concentrated on Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. This is a huge problem but this is one of other problem. Meanwhile in the north, Touhoku region, people are waiting for the food, blankets or water, but they seem to be pushed aside before nuclear.

give us food sos


It's been nearly a week and Japanese government hasn't organized much about aids to the shelters. 

People have written "FOOD", "1000 BLANKETS" on the ground and hoping for the help.

Another thing is that on the TV we can see all horrible images of Tsunami and destroyed nuclear plants but hardly see individual face of the people in the shelter. There are many people longing to find out their family's faces and see them. But all we see is the interview with Tokyo Electricity or the Tsunami is wiping out Touhoku cities.



This is a comedian duo, Sandwich Man.

On the day of earthquake, they happened to be in Kesen-numa in Miyagi for a filming. They were lucky enough to go up to a higher place (about 250m) but what they saw soon after was infernal, they wrote after in their blog.

Now they are promoting to help people in Touhoku Area, not only collecting donation but also they speak what really needed in the devastated area. Before most of the TV stations only showed the aftermath, smashed houses, people being carried to the shelter or a woman standing with a lost look. All the images were the view as an outsider. Sandwich Man accused the government and TV station for slow support to Touhoku region and for not showing people's faces in the shelter.

Also they stress on the lack of information to public. Even about the evacuation, there is no specific information such as to where, how, about old people etc.. Both of those who are in the devastated area and are outside of the area are trying to get exact information. Even I am not sure what to believe…

listen to the radio


Sandwich Man's call is working. Now I see some TV stations has small sections in between the news and there people appear one by one to tell their worried family that they are safe or to ask people their missing family.


Today, on the 17th of March, Edano Chief Cabinet Secretary announced that finally they have started to take care of aid matter to Touhoku region. Now… isn't it a little late? Japanese Self-Difence Force is on the mission, has cleaned up some ports and roads for the aid ship to be able to come in. 


Japanese people are generally quite patient people and don't often express their feeling like Western people. Comparing to Latin people, we are almost emotionelss. Some people have asked me " in this terrible situation, why almost no one is crying?"

crying woman


Japanese people don't tend to cry when they are in a difficult situation but cry for relief, joy or for someone else.

This woman started crying when a volunteer handed her a sweet bread.


I saw in the news, an old woman started crying when she called out to a missing grandson who is 6 and is about to start primary school in April. She sobbed out that he has to be alive to go to the school because he waited it so long.


Even my mother who has been alone in the tilted house without gas or water for nearly a week says everyday that she is OK. Up to now, I haven't seen or hear people are complaining apart from the frustration towards unclear Tokyo Electricity. Japan is a collective society, this is one of the distinguished character of Japan. People live for all before one itself. Under the circumstances like this, people get together for recovery believing another miracle. They recovered from two atomic bombs, WWII, many earthquakes and tsunami, why not this time? 

washing foodqueue for food








In the devastated area, without much support from the government, people are helping each other. Children in group go to find some food from the mud and wash them. If there is a ration from the volunteers, people queue. None of them are fighting for their turn. Even in the hospital, people wait for their turn outside where the snow is falling.


queue for socksqueue for socks 2









This is the queue for pair of socks. Here is the same, people are waiting for their turn.

Robbery isn't common in the devastated area, even though they have no food, no one attacks the supermarkets. This is quite impressive. 

According to a psychologist, this is the characteristic of collective society. In this type of society people don't rob because they are suffering, but when their family or loving one starts suffer, it's possible that they rob for the family.


An old man broke in tears for those who couldn't survive.

16 Mar

All Together, Make 1000 Cranes!

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

There is a girl in Madrid, Spain is asking for a help. It's not a big favor but a little help anyone can do to help Japan which just has been attacked by one of the biggest earthquake on the 11th of March.

That is making a Origami crane.



In Japan there is a legend of 1000 cranes. When someone is very sick or in a terrible situation like now in Japan, people make 1000 cranes with Origami wishing their recovery and send to the person or the place.

Now this girl Makiko is asking you all to make one crane each infolding your wishes to Japan, then take a photo of your crane and send it to this direction

If you don't know how to make a crane, you can see the instruction from the link on the right side of the page. "Las 1000 Grullas

Please send a photo of your crane. Let's send our hope to Japan. Do a minimum we can do. 



1000 Cranes for Japan




16 Mar

Current Status of Nuclear Safety in Japan reported by IAEA

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

This is the current status of nuclear safety in Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on the 15th of March reported by IAEA.

At the moment of the explosion of rector 4, the level of radioactive shot up to 400mm Sv however with the latest monitoring in the same day it went down to 0.6mmSv.

Japan is working on it, managing it despite of its difficulty and uncertainty.

Keep on eye on the report from IAEA.


16 Mar

Radiation Fears After the Quake, Lack of Information

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

fukushima plant

Since the quake attacked Japan on the 11th of March, already three explosions have happened in Fukushima nuclear plant.


Today as the water level of the reactor 2 of Fukushima Plant 1 had fallen and the fuel rod had been revealed without covered for two hours. It was about 18hrs at local time then sea water was poured into the rector, however the pressure inside the rector had become high and the fuel rod was again uncovered with water. At the mid night, finally they opened the valve to low the pressure. (The building on the left is the rector 1 and on the right is the rector  of Fukushima nuclear plant)

fuel pool


This is a reactor rod. According to the nuclear specialist, at 1,200ºC it starts to react to the vapor but this doesn't trigger meltdown. For example uranium needs to reach 2,800ºC to melt and to trigger meltdown, it needs the same temperature or more.


plant's team


Headquarters for nuclear disaster control in Fukushima. Local residents are anxious about not being able to get proper information.


map eng


A fire also briefly broke out at the plant's reactor 4 on the 15th.  It's believed to have led to radioactive leak and the local residents within 20km from the nuclear plants were evacuated.

The fire in the rector 4 has been on and off. Spent nuclear fuel is heating up and Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has confirmed that fuel pool is boiling.

wind and levelAt the moment of the first fire, the radiation level of the rector 4 was extremely high at 400mm Sv per hour and it was too dangerous to enter. Tokyo Electricity has decided to ask US army to sprinkle the water by helicopter. As soon as they get agreement, the operation will be carried out on Wednesday. 



Radiation level in the air has also increased in Tokyo area, too because of the wind from the north. Although the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology announces that the level isn't harmless to human body, it is higher than usual.


Now twice a day, in the morning and in the afternoon, the level of radiation is officially announced. In Shinjuku in Tokyo today, it ditected 21 times more radioactive of 0.809 micro sievert at the highest.


This sievert, people receive about 2.4m Sv of radioactive a year means 0.274 micro Sv per hour. As a reference, you can get 6.9 mm Sv from a chest CT scan. People who work at the nuclear plants may receive 50mm Sv at the highest a year. If you receive 500mm Sv, lymph cell will start reducing and with 1,000 mm Sv, you will get nausea or feeling of vomit.

prime minister



The Prime Minister, Naoto Kan has advised to the people within 20km from the plants to evacuate. Also to those who live in 20-30km, to stay inside the house and close the windows. 



Today, on the 15h, Japanese government has requested to IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) to provide expert missions.   They are investigating Fukushima nuclear plants and its rectors and updats every two hours.


Of course Japanese people are preocupied despite of the announcement from the government saying the level is harmless. Many confusing informations are flying. 

One of them was to drink iodine or gargle contains iodine to avoid contamination. Later it was advised not to do.

Under these circumstances, the most dangerous thing is to get panicked People are on the verge and easy to believe any information. Yes, it is scary but hope they stay calm and pay attention to what to believe.

radiation check


ASN (French Nuclear Safety Authority) made a comment that this disaster of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was the second most severe accident and considers as level 6 by INES (the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale).

The most severe nuclear accident in the history was Chernobyl in 1986 and was level 7. Three Mile Island accident happened in 1979 was leveled at 5.


visit for checkThere are so many informations about the nuclear plants and it's difficult to know what to believe. Now this accident has triggered big discussion over nuclear plants in the world. It has been controversal but now it's even more. German has shut down their nuclear plants and the countries which have nuclear plants will strengthen the inspection on older rectors. This experience makes the world to think the safety and the necessity of nuclear plants.


Iromegane will continue fixing on the movement of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plants. Repeat, despite of higher level of radiation level, it is falling. The provincias around Fukushima have started receiving refugees. At the moment, in the areas more than 20km from the plant, the level of radiation is harmless.

14 Mar

Shelters in Japan- Need Food, Heating, Nappies

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

Four days past after the large earthquake in Tohoku region in Japan. The number of refugees has increased to 550,000 on the 14th of March. The damage on the northeast coast side is severe and all the traffic networks are shut down, neither on the land nor by the sea. 


From entire Japan is sending aid to Tohoku but this traffic problem impede. Also the number of refugees are increasing and the aid is just not enough. [/captio

From the supermarkets and Konbini stores in Japan, drinks, bread, cup noodles and prepared food which they can eat without cooking are gone. 

supply food


However, this has triggered people's anxiety. People who don't even live in Tohoku region feel threatened and rush in the supermarket to stock up their food supplies. Every day, there are huge queue of people at tills in shops with piled up baskets with dried bread, cup noodle, rice and tin food.


The media is telling them not to worry because distribution hasn't stopped. It's just because sending to Tohoku region is the priority at the moment and the shelves seem to be getting empty, but it's not like that. But people seem to be panicked.



Same thing is happening to the petro. People queue in front of the petro stations to get a drip more. Now many petro stations have limited service and give commercial vehicles priority.

Under extreme situation, the most important thing is to stay calm and pay attention to the announcement. Because there are many false informations that delude people in a chaotic situation.



Here in Sendai, too. People are diving into supermarkets first in the morning to stock up their food supply. Well, this is in Sendai and is understandable.

In shelters there is shortage of food especially, besides food, they need heating system, toiletpaper, medicines and nappies. Gasoline is essential for generators to give them light and warmth.

no heating


The supplies are on the way but it's slow. There are many older people in those area and they are weak.

Japanese government has decided to accept the offer from China, that they will send blankets. I don't really understand why they have to consider whether they could accept them or not, but I guess this is a political matter…

91 countries are sending their specialist, rescue teams and aids. Even New Zealand who is still recovering from their own disaster also send a rescue team to Japan.




Many volunteers have already made a muve.

This is a volunteer group from Kanazawa prefecture. Providing warm food to refugees. Even a bowl of rice or a cup of miso soup, it is enough to warm them up and to give them a little strength.


supply raamen


A food company, Nisshin has announced on the 13th that they will distribute a million cup noodles to the refugees in Tohoku region.

Besides, a tent maker has sent three 10ton trucks of tents to the north. The tents they provide are huge, 2,000 square metres made with strong materials and can accommodate 2,000 people in each tent.

Now the most important resorces at the moment is food and fuel. In Sendai, 320,000 people are in shelters and a million meals are needed a day. Japanese government has promised to contribute about 302 billion yen (about $3.7 billion) for the aid for this earthquake. 

According to the emergency disaster control, 55,0142 foods including bread, rice balls and cup noodle and 11,8912 bottles of drinks have been sent to the stricken area in the morning of the 14th. To the isolated area, the aids are dropped by helicopter. However 2,130,000 meals and 940,000 bottles of drinks are requested from the shelters. The shortage of the aids is severe.    

14 Mar

Scheduled Blackouts and Things We Can Do

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

planned blackouts

After the earthquake on the 11th of March, they are having scheduled blackouts to save power.

In Japan, the power source is divided in two; western Japan and eastern Japan. Curiously enough, they have different power level. In western part they use 50Hz and in eastern part, 60Hz. Although they have transformer to be able to help each part, even so, to cover entire eastern part is almost impossible. In the western Japan, they have reoperated some of the thermal power stations to send excess power to eastern part but still about 10 million kw of energy is short.

planned blackout in yamanashi


In the eastern Japan, they are separated in five groups and they have a blackout by taking turn. However this grouping is not so clear and there is a confusion. All day, Tokyo Electric Power was on the TV interview and being blamed of giving unclear announcement.

Way from Tohoku, here in Yamanashi prefecture, they have a turn of sheduled blackout. During the night of the 11th of March, People were lighting up the candles and cooking on the portable stove. A woman says "comparing to what is happening to the north, this is the minimum thing we can do to save some power. It's only a few hours of a day." Exactly.

blackout plan

This is the planning for blackout. Many countries are impressed by this. If you remember big blackout in NY, it's hard to control brown-out and Japan is one of few countries which is capable to manage it. But of course the information is confusing and people are irritated.

tokyo chaos

In Tokyo, the trains were running but less than normal schedule. Stations were full of people who were trying to get to work and became chaotic.



Until today, there have been 194 aftershock are recorded.

13 Mar

Liquefaction in Tokyo after the quake

Juju Kurihara 1 Comment

Comparing to the damage in the northeast coast of Japan, there is nothing to complain in Tokyo. Yes, the quake was scale 5 and it is scary especially if you are not from Japan but from the countries where never have experienced earthquake. However, Japan is well prepared, thinking of people in Sendai who lost their houses and families, we can't moan having some plates broken. 

The area near Tokyo Bay, the land is man-made. If you remember the earthquake in Kobe in 1995, you might've seen the ground had liquefied. This is what is happening in this area, too.

liquefactionSoon after the quake, the muddy water started coming out from the ground and my mother ran out of the house to get away the mud from the exhaust of my father's car. She sacrificed the parking and other car and saved his treasure.

sank bike





Neighbour's parking. The bike and the bicycle are half stuck in the mud. It's all come out from the the mud





In the same afternoon, people started to get rid of the mud because once it dries, the mud turns back to concrete so it has to be quick. Unfortunately my mother has just had the parking done, but the people from the construction company came to help her for getting rid of the mud. Look how thik the mud is. Since the earthquake, all the neighbourhood is helping each other.

mount of mud



This is the result of a day. They don't know if the municipal will come and collect this but I think this is the minimum they can do for the local residents.





It's a little difficult to see on the photo but you can see the house is a bit tilted because of the wobbly ground.


tilted gate




And here you see the gate of a house is well tilted and a big crack on the street. The mud they scraped out has become a good support for the gate, it seems…

leaned trees


Same house. Their fence fell down and the hedge are also lean forwards. The house of my mother is tilted backwards and according to her, if she sits on the toilet which is located at the back part of the house, she feels falling backward towards the wall.



The area where Tokyo Disney Land is totally covered with mud. Here is the link to the video

I'm so relieved that my family and friends are safe despite of lots of work to do. My mother is tired of running around and queuing for the water, or not being able to wash herself. But the most important thing is she is safe under the roof.

They are advicing to the people outside of Tohoku region where have much less damage to cut the power as much as possible. In fact, Tokyo Electric Power has decided a power control until this summer regardless of the recovery of the power. I think that is the minimum we can do at the moment.